Milken Institute Global Conference

A-Rod, Prince Andrew, Magic Johnson and 4,000 More at The Milken Institute Global Conference

Plus a Celebration of Women


The Milken Institute Global Conference offered a gala fundraiser, vast networking opportunities and three days of sessions with prominent business leaders, government officials, sports figures, world-changing entrepreneurs and even a few celebrities, such as Matt Damon, who came to shed light on the world’s water crisis.


The crowd…

As I tweeted during the Global Conference, “You never know who’ll be sitting next to you.” That day, I found myself sharing a table with Alexander Rodriguez, a.k.a. A-Rod, at a session on “Entrepreneurial Leadership.”

Famous faces popped up regularly. The next day I spotted the Reverend Jesse Jackson in the hall.


Britain’s Prince Andrew, Barbara Streisand, Bradley Cooper, LL Cool J, producer Ryan Kavanaugh and more VIPs attended the Global Gourmet Games, a fundraiser for FasterCures that kicked off the Global Conference.

Readers can find my story about the event here in the “All the Rage” section of Los Angeles Times.


The numbers…

Over the course of the Global Conference, 4,000 people converged upon the Beverly Hilton Hotel to hear 660 speakers.


In a remarkable instance of good timing …

Magic Johnson spoke at a luncheon almost immediately after becoming the central figure in comments made by Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. In a panel on the business of sports, Johnson expressed his disappointment at Sterling’s racist remarks and said Sterling had been one of the first people he met on coming to Los Angeles. Johnson also said he planned to own an NBA team one day, but didn’t make any commitments.


A high degree of interest…

There wasn’t a seat to spare in the jam-packed room, where a session called “The Highs – and Lows – of the Cannabis Economy” took place.



The Women’s Celebration… 

No question, dark-suited gents dominated the Global Conference. Yet Michael Milken, chairman of the Milken Institute, reported that nearly 1,000 women had participated and midway through the conference, he welcomed 200 women to a special “Celebration of Women.”

After Mindy Silverstein, the institute’s managing director, addressed the women, Milken took over, saying, “You’ve come a long way,” referencing the famous Virginia Slims ad of years past.

In unison, the audience added, “Baby,” to fill in the slogan’s familiar last word.

That session’s panelists included Judy Smith, the inspiration for Olivia Pope on “Scandal; Molly Ashby, CEO of Solera Capital; Nancy Dubuc, CEO of A+E Network; Shiza Shahid, CEO of the Malala Fund; and Fortune senior editor-at-large, Pattie Sellars as emcee.

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Sellars led the group in a discussion of career paths, comparing them to“jungle gyms” that allow for a “swing to opportunities,” as opposed to ladders going straight up.

She also asked panelists how they envisioned their lives at age 12 and considering that their answers ranged from becoming an nun to falling in level, Milken’s introduction certainly rang true.

We’ve come a long way.


Top photo: Mike Milken, left, with Great Britain’s Prince Andrew at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2014 (photo: Paul Bliese for the Milken Family Foundation)

Second photo: From left, the “Celebration of Women” panelists Pattie Sellars, Fortune senior editor-at-large; Judy Smith, the inspiration for Olivia Pope on “Scandal; Molly Ashby, CEO of Solera Capital; Nancy Dubuc, CEO of A+E Network; and Shiza Shahid, CEO of the Malala Fund. (photo:

Third photo: Alexander Rodriguez and this website’s author, Ellen Olivier, at the Milken Institute Global Conference 2014 (photo:

Fourth photo: Mike Milken and LL Cool J at the Global Gourmet Games that kicked off the Milken Institute Global Conference 2014 (photo: Phil McCarten for the Milken Family Foundation)

Fifth photo: James Brolin and Barbara Streisand at the Global Gourmet Games that kicked off the Milken Institute Global Conference 2014 (photo: Phil McCarten for the Milken Family Foundation)




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Spring Highlight: Milken Institute Global Conference 2014

Published May 15, 2014 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA